IF THE school district doesn't receive additional funding and operates next year under an austerity plan, the resulting scenario would devastate education for the children of the city, Mayor Nutter asserted yesterday.
The district cuts essentially would mean "buildings that are open and people who are there," Nutter said. "But it is not an educational opportunity."
Schools would go without assistant principals, guidance counselors and extracurricular activities, Nutter said to students and staff at Jackson School in South Philadelphia. "That's not school."
To help avert that bleak future, Nutter suggested increasing taxes on booze and tobacco to help raise the $60 million the school district has requested from the city. The district also says it needs another $120 million from the state and $133 million in labor concessions to close a $304 million budget gap.
Nutter, who was joined by other city officials and state lawmakers, added that he'll present funding proposals next week.
Saying he "will not let the nightmare" happen, Nutter said he and Council President Darrell Clarke have discussed hiking the tax levied on alcoholic drinks in bars and restaurants from 10 percent to 15 percent. That proposal, Nutter said, would generate between $20 and $25 million.
They have also talked about increasing cigarette taxes, he said.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, proposed changes in state policy that he said could save $722 million, some of which could be directed to Pennsylvania schools.
The proposals include urging the state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a ObamaCare, which would save $260 million.
Tim Eller, a spokesman for the Department of Education, said Gov. Corbett has already proposed a $90 million increase in its budget for basic education for a total of $5.49 billion. Philadelphia would get $14 million of that added revenue, he said.
"It is what it is. Whether that funding level goes up is up to budget negotiations," Eller said. The governor "doesn't believe in increasing revenue through taxes and is committed to a government that lives within its means."